Allende, Isabel (1942–)

views updated

Allende, Isabel (1942–)

Isabel Allende (b. 2 August 1942), Chilean novelist, born in Peru, where her father was a member of the diplomatic corps. After her parents separated, she was brought up in an old labyrinthine house surrounded by stories that eventually influenced her first novel, La casa de los espíritus (1982; The House of the Spirits, 1985), a work that brought Isabel Allende immediate international recognition. The novel is a melodramatic account of a patriarchal family saga whose story runs parallel to Chile's history in the twentieth century. Translated into several languages, it achieved remarkable success throughout the Western world.

From 1967 to 1974, Allende worked as a journalist for Paula, a woman's magazine in her native Santiago. In 1973 her uncle, Chilean president Salvador Allende, was assassinated by the Chilean military during a coup d'état that ousted his Socialist government. In 1975, fearing for her life, Isabel left Chile and went into exile. She settled with her family in Caracas, Venezuela, where she continued to practice journalism.

In The House of the Spirits she highlights the independent nature of the female characters, whose lives become increasingly entangled in the political process of their country, assumed to be Chile but never actually named. Her second novel, De amor y de sombra (1984; Of Love and Shadows, 1987), centers around a historical event, the discovery of the remains of a group of victims of a massacre by the military regime in a mine at Los Riscos, Chile. The novel can be interpreted as a denunciation of the military regime that ousted President Allende's government. Beginning with her third novel, Eva Luna (1987; Eva Luna, 1988), Allende's attention shifts from Chile's contemporary reality to a broader setting, where storytelling from a female viewpoint becomes the focus of her fiction. In 1989, after moving to California, she published Los cuentos de Eva Luna (The Stories of Eva Luna, 1991), tales told by the title character of her previous novel. Later works include El plan infinito (1991; The Infinite Plan, 1993) Paula (1994, trans. 1995); Aphrodite (1997); Hija de la fortuna (Daughter of Fortune, 1999); Mi país inventado (My Invented Country, 2003); and Inés del alma mia (Inés of My Soul, 2006). In 1994 she was awarded the Orden al Mérito Gabriela Mistral by the Chilean government.

See alsoAllende Gossens, Salvador; Literature: Spanish America.


Marcelo Coddou, Los libros tienen sus propios espíritus (1987), and Para leer a Isabel Allende (1988).

Magdalena García Pinto, Women Writers of Latin America (1991).

Additional Bibliography

Correas de Zapata, Celia. Isabel Allende: Vida y espíritus. Barcelona: Plaza & Janés Editores, 1998.

Feal, Rosemary Geisdorfer, and Yvette E. Miller. Isabel Allende Today: An Anthology of Essays. Pittsburgh, PA: Latin American Literary Review Press, 2002.

Levine, Linda Gould. Isabel Allende. New York: Twayne Publishers, 2002.

                            Magdalena GarcÍa Pinto

About this article

Allende, Isabel (1942–)

Updated About content Print Article